We were promised the most competitive TASCO Mildura Pacing Cup final in many years, and Tuesday’s heat night didn’t disappoint with aggressive harness racing and some super winning and qualifying performances.

Rising stars Little Louie, Dangerous and John Mclean will face off with some seasoned cups campaigners in Kowalski Analysis, Helluva and Serg Blanco after all gained their spots in Saturday’s $50,000 Group 3 feature.

“True Mildura Style” was on from the get-go in the first heat, but exciting four-year-old Dangerous was perfectly driven to an all-the-way win by the youngest driver in the Cup, Abby Sanderson.

The stallion can be a tricky beginner, but Sanderson showed plenty of composure to balance Dangerous out of the gate before urging forward to cross to the lead. Also mustering from out wide was New South Wales visitor Glenledi Elvis, but Sanderson was quick to extract enough from Dangerous to hold the front without firing him up unduly.

Meanwhile, perennial Mildura Cup campaigner John Justice, three wide at the rear of the field, was content to let things unfold in front of him on Helluva before working forward to take the death seat from Glenledi Elvis.

With 1400 metres to go, Ryan Duffy made a lightning move from the rear on Serg Blanco and appeared likely to be held three wide by Justice. As the field entered the home straight for the bell, Duffy continued to urge forward and crossed, with Helluva breaking gait momentarily as he did so.

Dangerous went on to score strongly ahead of Serg Blanco and John McLean in a quick time of 1:57.1 (30.3 28.9 29.5 29.7).

Heat one qualifiers (in order) were Dangerous, Serg Blanco, John McLean, Helluva and Our Vincent Can Gogh, with Dangerous and Serg Blanco undoubtedly the standout runs.

Dangerous was having his first look at Mildura, but Sanderson said he felt comfortable on the tight circuit.

“He is a beautiful pacer once you get him away, so I didn’t have any worries about him handling the track,” Sanderson said.

“He was beautifully behaved tonight, even in the warmup he was casual and going up to the gate he was quiet as a lamb – I was stoked.

“He was going to the line well, but he can be a bit lazy if he’s not pushed, so I still think I had a bit there.”

The second heat was no less competitive with a superb drive by Horsham trainer-driver Aaron Dunn securing the win with Little Louie.

Dunn had signalled his intention to push forward and hold the front from his pole position, but local My Ultimate Billy zoomed forward from barrier four and had too many guns in the initial burn. Dunn slipped off My Ultimate Billy’s back and urged Little Louie forward around the first turn to resume the lead as Jack Laugher moved around the field to the death seat on Earl of Pembroke.

Western District reinswoman Jackie Barker didn’t spend a penny in the early stages, but with 600 metres to go she made her move on Kowalski Analysis and strode up impressively to join the leading brigade.

The three fought out the finish, with Little Louie scoring ahead of Earl of Pembroke and Kowalski Analysis in a time of 1:58.9 (30.8 31.6 29.9 28).

Heat two qualifiers (in order) were Little Louie, Earl of Pembroke, Kowalski Analysis, Western Sonador and My Ultimate Billy.

Little Louie and Earl of Pembroke, who this time 12 months ago fought out the finish of the Mildura Guineas, looked impressive, while Kowalski Analysis will take benefit from a softer qualifying heat in the short turnaround to Saturday night’s final.

Photo: Jo Morrish Photo